Everton 2-0 Blackpool: Sunday Mirror match report
Published 17:11 18/02/12 By Simon Mullock
They love a centre-forward at Everton – and two former heroes were at Goodison Park to watch Denis Stracqualursi show why he’s become the club’s latest talisman.
Duncan Ferguson and Wayne Rooney were part of a capacity crowd crammed into the famous old stadium to see the livewire Argentine lead from the front as David Moyes’ men marched into the last eight of the FA Cup.
Stracqualursi capped another all-action display with his third goal in five games as the tough task faced by Ian Holloway’s Championship promotion-chasers became Mission Impossible inside the first six minutes.
Royston Drenthe gave the home side the lead with a glorious strike after just 49 seconds.
And five minutes later, Stracqualursi showed he has an instinct for goal with a predatory close-range finish.
Everton manager David Moyes said: “We always try to get off to a quick start and the goals we scored really settled us down.
“They had a few opportunities towards the end, but we had six or seven great chances to put the game to bed that we didn’t take.
“I had five or six players out who would have probably been in the team, and Leighton Baines played despite being sick in the warm-up.”
Blackpool manager Holloway admitted: “We were a million miles away from Everton. I can’t believe the start we had. We made some fundamental errors and it was practically over for us after six minutes.
“We got beat by a better team today. There were a couple of times when we might have got back into it, but at least we didn’t let it become a rout.”
Argentine Stracqualursi has been likened to Carlos Tevez in the muscular way he goes about his business.
Now he can dream about following in his countryman’s footsteps by marching up to the Royal Box to lift the Cup at Wembley on May 13.
Ferguson came on as a sub the last time they lifted the trophy – watched by an adoring nine-year-old Rooney.
Both men would have expected to see the Blues given a hard time by a team that had not been beaten since the turn of the year.
Holloway made seven changes to his Blackpool team – partly because he believes his squad has strength in depth but also because he has a crucial clash with West Ham looming on Tuesday.
And, in truth, the team he sent out did match the home side for long periods.
The only problem was that the Tangerines were two adrift before the 6,000 fans who had followed them from the coast had taken in their surroundings.
Drenthe swept a fine first-time finish high past Matt Gilks after Marouane Fellaini had laid Magaye Gueye’s cross into his path.
Then Stracqualursi struck when he toe-poked home at the second attempt after Drenthe’s near-post corner was flicked on by Gueye.
Blackpool could have conceded more – but they also gave Everton plenty to worry about at the other end. Holloway’s cause wasn’t helped when Gary Taylor-Fletcher was carried off after coming off second best in a lunge for the ball with Tim Howard.
Stracqualursi was inches away from scoring again when he just failed to make contact with Gueye’s teasing cross.
And Fellaini thought he had scored only for his close-range shot to bounce behind off Craig Cathcart’s chest.
Darron Gibson then saw his drive beaten out by Gilks before Stracqualursi headed over. The Argentine then turned
provider at the start of the second half, crossing perfectly only for Fellaini and Gibson to get in a tangle and allow Robert Harris to clear.
But after Gilks had brilliantly turned away Drenthe’s rocket shot, the visitors began to grow in belief.
Kevin Phillips saw his 20-yard free-kick beat Howard only to clip the top of the bar. At the other end, Harris somehow blocked a Fellaini effort on the goalline.
Then Tangerines substitute Lomana LuaLua let fly with a drive that was destined for the bottom corner until Howard tipped the ball on to a post.
In injury time Roman Bednar went down after a tangle with John Heitinga and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the penalty spot, but Phillips fired his effort high into the Gwladys Street stand.